Your first step is to see one our allergy physicians at Sneeze Allergy, Cough & Sinus Centers. You may be sent by your primary care physician, follow the recommendation of a family member or friend who is seeing us or maybe you just found us from our website: Sneeze.com.
We will obtain a detailed medical history, examine you and evaluate your symptoms. Tests will be performed to find out the type of your allergic disease. Skin tests or allergy blood tests may be needed to find out the precise causes of your allergic symptoms.
This is the step where your allergic symptoms and you get better.
Allergy treatments are of two types:
When you cannot avoid allergens, there are many medicines that can help control allergy symptoms. Decongestants and antihistamines are the most common allergy medications. They help to reduce a stuffy nose, runny nose, sneezing and itching.
Other medications work by preventing the release of the chemicals that cause allergic reactions. Topical corticosteroids (nasal sprays) are effective in treating inflammation in your nose.
One of our allergists will work with you to determine which medicines are best for you and how often and how much of them you should take—while eliminating or minimizing any side effects. Please refer to our detailed handout on the different types of medications used to treat allergies. You will also learn about which medications are prescribed for each type of allergy by reading specific content related to that allergic condition.
SLIT or SCIT (Immunotherapy – drops or shots)
What Is SLIT?
Sublingual immunotherapy is an alternative way to treat allergies without injections. An allergist gives a patient small doses of an allergen under the tongue to boost tolerance to the substance and reduce symptoms. According to a 2009 World Allergy Organization (WAO) paper, SLIT is widely accepted and used in European, South American, and Asian countries as well as in Australia and is gaining interest from allergists in the United States. However, SLIT was not FDA approved for use in the United States until April 2nd, 2014. On that date the FDA approved Oralair, a sublingual tablet used to treat nasal and ocular allergy symptoms due to certain grasses. Since then, one other grass tablet (Grastek) and one for ragweed allergies (Ragwitek) has been approved. More approvals are expected to follow as the FDA studies SLIT on an antigen by antigen basis.
An allergist must first use allergy testing to confirm the patients sensitivities. Once this is determined, an allergen extract is prepared in drop or tablet form and the patient is directed to keep it under the tongue for one to two minutes and then swallow it. The process is repeated from three days a week to as often as daily with recommendations that therapy is continued for three to five years to develop a lasting immunity.
Is Sublingual Immunotherapy Effective and Safe?
Most clinical trials and surveys published over at least 20 years show that SLIT is relatively safe and effective for the treatment of rhinitis and asthma caused by allergies to dust mites, grass, ragweed, cat dander, and tree pollens. As of June 2009, of 60 double-blind, placebo-controlled studies of SLIT, 48 trials showed positive results and 12 showed results that were totally or almost totally negative, according to the WAO paper. Evidence is emerging that SLIT may be effective for treating the red, itchy eyes caused by pollen during hay fever season.
In addition, it might prove an effective therapy for children with mild atopic dermatitis (eczema)and is currently being studied for its potential in treating food allergies.
Side effects among both children and adults are usually local and mild, most often occur early in treatment, and include itching in the mouth or stomach problems. These can usually be managed by dose adjustments. International studies reveal that SLIT can be safe for children under age 5 and may be a preferred method for controlling allergy symptoms compared with injection therapy.Very rarely, severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) have been reported using SLIT. Therefore this treatment is best prescribed by an allergist.
What Are the Risks of Sublingual Immunotherapy?
For the most part, SLIT risks relate to the nature of the treatment: it is administered at home and without direct medical supervision. Patients should therefore receive clear guidance from allergists on managing adverse reactions and treatment interruptions and should know when to consult the prescribing allergist.
What is SCIT?
Subcutaneous immunotherapy is the standard approach to allergen immunotherapy and has been practiced for over 100 years. Similar to SLIT, small doses of allergens are given to the patient in a controlled manner to induce tolerance over time and reduce symptoms. A difference is that this approach works through injections typically given in the upper arms via small needles. As with SLIT, there is a small chance of anaphylaxis with each treatment. Unlike SLIT, SCIT requires medical supervision for all treatments.